Men’s Hockey: Huskies fall in season opener, make comeback in UMass series

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UConn men’s hockey played against UMass Lowell last November. This year, they fell 5-1 against UMass. Photo by Kevin Lindstrom/The Daily Campus

With a last-minute change to the schedule, the UConn men’s hockey team traveled to Mullins Center on Friday for their season opener against No. 7 UMass where they fell 5-1 on Friday.

In the first period, UConn (0-1-1) had a penalty called on them at the 3:23 mark after a hooking call was made on Jáchym Kondelík. Not too long after, the Huskies went down to three men after another penalty was called, this time on Brian Rigali. The Minutemen (1-0-1) wasted no time with this advantage of the power play, and five minutes in, UMass’ Cal Kiefiuk scored the first goal of the game. As time passed by, UConn equalized at the 14:18 mark thanks to Johnny Evans’ back-pass to Kale Howarth who put the puck in the back of the net.

Three minutes into the second period, UMass took the lead once again. Garrett Wait was the one who scored after Oliver Chau kept possession long enough to pass to UMass’ recent transfer. Despite UConn having a power play in the period, they were unable to make much use of it. The third period is where the Minutemen smashed the remainder of their goals, with Colin Felix scoring the third goal in the 10th minute while Zac Jones and Oliver Chau cemented the final two goals toward the end, about a minute apart from each other.

“I thought the three periods we were thoroughly outplayed by UMass,” UConn head coach Mike Cavanaugh said in a post-game interview. “I thought they out skated us, they were more physical … They were able to do that for 60 minutes, and they deserved to win the game.”

On Saturday, however, the Huskies were able to make up for their defeat by putting up a strong fight at the Freitas Ice Forum by winning in a shootout.

In the first Period, UMass had a power play early on due to freshman Hudson Schandor receiving a penalty for boarding. A couple of minutes later, the Minutemen opened up the game with a goal from Matthew Kessel. Almost ten minutes later, UMass would score again, this time by Philip Lagunov.

While the second period remained stagnant from both sides, the third period is where the Huskies made their comeback. In the 10th minute, Carter Turnbull skated the puck towards the goal and smashed it in for the hosts. At the death of the third period, Rigali equalized the game and sent it straight into overtime.

UMass nearly left Freitas with an OT win. However, after a lengthy review, the goal was taken off the board due to UMass having too many men on the ice. As a result, both sides went into shootouts, the first of the season with the new rules in Hockey East, where UConn came out on top in the fourth round thanks to Kale Howarth, who scored his second goal of the season.

“It was almost like a carbon copy of what happened [Friday] night,” Cavanaugh said, referencing the first period of the rematch. “I was happy with the way we executed. We won a ton of battles, we hit posts, the goalie made great saves, and sometimes that happens.”

It’s unclear whether the game will go in as a win for the Huskies. Right now, it is officially a 2-2 tie, as the games this weekend were considered “non-conference” matchups. But if these games get transferred to conference games due to future cancellations, UConn will have a win because of the shootout.

Welcome to college hockey in 2020.

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